The Best of the Big Smoke

by : Andrew Regan

Samuel Johnson once famously said "when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life". This was true when he said it in the late 18th century and is certainly true today. As Europe's largest city, home to 7.5 million people speaking over 300 languages and some of the most iconic sights in the world, visitors are simply spoiled for choice when visiting The Big Smoke.

London's famous attractions include Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The Tower of London and The London Eye, all of which are easily accessible through public transport and worth going to, even if one decides not to go in. London is also host to an incredible amount of world-class museums and galleries, most of which are free of admittance charge, including the Tate Galleries, The British Museum and The National Gallery.

London's West End is famous for its theatrical productions, and this year's programme is as exciting as ever with best sellers including Blood Brothers, We Will Rock You and Les Miserables. Visitors can book tickets in advance or find last-minute discounted tickets to shows at the TKTS ticket booths at Leicester Square. Formerly known as the Half Price Ticket Booth, it is the only official discount theatre operation in London and offers a better range and price of tickets than touts.

Shopping in London is easy and offers an unsurpassed range of shops. Oxford Street and Regent Street include flagship stores of every major UK retailer, while Knightsbridge offers the more upscale Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Soho and Camden Market offer more alternative clothing and music for teenagers and young adults, while Covent Garden offers everything from quaint shops to relatively expensive designer retail.

Booking travel and accommodation for a trip to London can be done in a few clicks online. London is currently serviced by six airports and is also accessible by train and bus. Depending on where one is travelling from and where one is staying in London, it could be cheaper and more convenient to travel by train or bus. Most hotels in London will have a website with information about their facilities and about the local area to help travellers make the right choice.

London is serviced by one of the world's most comprehensive public transportation systems, which incorporate buses and the London Underground (or tube). Visitors would be wise to invest in an Oyster card in order to save money and time, even if only staying for a short trip. The Oyster card is an electronic "smart card" that allows customers to top-up credit for travel across London and is guaranteed to be cheaper than single tickets. Oyster cards are easily obtainable online or at most tube stations.

At the end of the day, regardless of how one chooses to get there or spend time there, London is a city with limitless possibilities that has people coming back again and again. Find out for yourself if you are one of them.